When is one question not enough?


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Using Net Promoter Score© in a customer service environment can be a tricky thing. Measuring NPS after a transaction sounds simple in theory: just ask one question on likelihood to recommend. If your NPS score is high, then your customers are telling you they’re loyal based on that transaction.

In practice, it’s often not that easy. A number of organizations that we have worked with have seen that a gain in service-related NPS doesn’t always translate to a gain in relationship loyalty or NPS at the enterprise level. Why not?

It turns out that using NPS effectively, and understanding what it means in a transactional service environment, isn’t really that simple after all. Here’s what you need to know to do it right:

1. Quantify impact. Our research shows that only about 40% of loyalty scores are driven by what happens during customer service interaction(s). What drives the rest? Customers say the most important influencers are the quality and performance of your product, and its value for the price. Rank-ordered, service actually comes in third. So service is critical, but just improving customer service doesn’t guarantee your overall NPS will move in lockstep.

2. Know what you’re measuring. When customers are asked if they’d recommend a company, they automatically begin to think about their broader experiences – including your products, key points in their customer journey, etc. – to answer the question. They’re not focusing only on their most recent interaction, even if that’s what you’ve asked them to do. So when choosing your experience metrics, consider what you’re measuring, how specific you need to be, who you’re surveying, and how you’ll be surveying them. All of these factors will affect your scores and what they mean.

3. Test the driver(s). If you’re seeing a drop in transactional NPS, but no change in your other transactional metrics, look for root causes that aren’t necessarily related to the service interaction itself – such as changes in product or upstream policy. While NPS scores in a transactional context may not fully reflect operational performance, they do foreshadow enterprise customer experience results, and they also tie to later customer behavior.

4. Right-size. Incorporate other transaction-specific metrics into your service measurements. Focusing on customer effort – how hard your customers have to work to do business with you – and front-line agent behavior – are they making interactions easy for your customers? – provides a useful supplement to interaction-level NPS. Adding other metrics to your programs will help you get closer to root causes and recommendations for improvement.

5. Press reset. Use the right metrics at the right time – NPS for measuring loyalty, and transactional measurements for evaluating transactional customer experience. Evaluate your customers’ experiences with your processes end to end, not just at customer service touch points. Empower your employees with the ability to solve your customers’ problems. Finally, make it easy everywhere – focusing on effort impacts your relationship NPS scores too.

John Georgesen, Ph.D.
John Georgesen, Ph.D., is Senior Director, Analytics at Concentrix. He specializes in designing customer experience (CX) programs that drive tangible improvements. With 20 years of applied experience, John is a recognized innovator in the field of customer experience management.


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